Dealing with a lost Wallet

Yusuke Sakakura writes:

As usual, I tried to get on the train using Apple Pay Suica at the ticket gate, but it didn’t respond at all and I got stuck. At first I thought it was because I was wearing a thick coat, so I held it up again, but there was no response … When I checked the Wallet app, all the credit cards and Suica were gone.

It sounds like he was using Suica on Apple Watch. Sakakura goes on to helpfully explain what can cause this and how to get your Wallet cards back. The most common cause for a lost Wallet is signing out of Apple ID. Another cause is turning off the passcode. As he points out, the notification warning when signing out of Apple ID or turning off the passcode is vague, it doesn’t specially say you are about wipe your credit cards and Suica from iPhone. Some users are not fully aware of the consequences and proceed, only to be rudely surprised when they find Wallet is empty.

In all cases it is easy to restore a lost Wallet. Sign-in to Apple ID, set a passcode, go to Wallet, tap + , tap Previous Card and re-add the listed cards. Suica is easier to re-add as there are no terms and conditions or security code steps involved. As always make sure iPhone has a robust network connection when adding Wallet cards.

Another issue to be aware of with Suica and PASMO is Express Mode deactivation without realizing it. This happens when iPhone Face ID has 5 false reads (easy to do when wearing a face mask), when Apple Watch is off the wrist, or when the iPhone side buttons are inadvertently pressed in a snug fitting pocket (often aggravated by the phone case).

One oddity I have encountered using Apple Pay Suica on Apple Watch is wrist band fit. Apple Pay Suica on Apple Watch works fine at the transit gate under layers of winter cloths but Express Transit is sometimes deactivated with a looser fitting band. I like wearing the braided sports loop but it tends to stretch over time and become loose compared with the snug fitting solo loop. On a recent trip I had to constantly enter the Apple Watch passcode as my winter coat sleeve layers pulled the loose fitting braided sport loop enough to fool wrist detection. From here on I’m sticking with cheaper, more reliable solo loop which never has this problem.

Here are some guides dealing with re-adding Suica and PASMO:

Transfer to a another device
Restore from a lost or wiped device
Safely remove Suica or PASMO

QR Vaccination Certificate iOS 15 Wallet support comes to Japan (Updated)

The Japanese Government Digital Agency released a QR Code COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate app for iOS and Android today, 2021-12-21. The iOS app has support for SMART Health QR Code certificates that can be added to iOS 15.1 Wallet iPhone and later.

The app requires a Japanese Individual Number Card (My Number Card) to issue a vaccination certificate which is linked to individual vaccination information. The process offers 2 options, domestic use and international use. Issuing a certificate is simple: select options, enter the user set My Number PIN and read the physical My Number Card. The International option requires a reading a passport number.

Users report success getting an issued certificate into Wallet but the process is somewhat manual. If you don’t get a Wallet prompt, do an in-app scan of the Smart Health QR Code to load it into Health and Wallet apps.

My own experience with the app was not good. I have vaccinations and a My Number Card, but get a 60910 error when I enter my PIN and read the card. Some My Number Card naming conventions, such as such as maiden + married names, or mixed English and Japanese are not accepted by the app for certificate issue.

The app support details explain this kind of issue can only be fixed with a visit to the city hall office where city officials update the registered My Number Card name information. The issue appears to affect more than a few people. The Digital Agency updated their website later in the day and told IT reporter Junya Suzuki that an app update is coming soon to address some unspecified naming issues, however the basic name limitations remain listed on the website and app.

We shall see…knowing my luck I’ll probably have go to to the local ward office records section anyway to get a real fix. I’ll report gory details later if I do.


UPDATE 2021-12-22
A number of issues have cropped up since the apps release. It seems that the Digital Agency subcontractor made mistakes, or failed to find them in their rush to get the Vaccination Certificate App out. Most likely there wasn’t proper subcontractor oversight or review, and iOS development appears to have taken a backseat to Android. The name issue is related to limitations in the current JP ePassport format. The timing is questionable as Japan is entering a gray zone regarding who should get booster vaccinations and when. Until that’s settled vaccination certificates are pretty useless for domestic use.

The list of issues so far:

  • The supported formats are ICAO VDS-NC and SMART Health Cards (SHC). Currently there is no support for EU DCC format which is widely used internationally.
  • Certificates are not added to Wallet automatically, it is done via an in-app scan of the SHC QR Code, not the VDS-NC one.
  • The app handles SHC code incorrectly and produces a SHC record that wrongly juxtaposes ‘family’ and ‘given’ names in Roman letters (fixed in v1.04 update).
  • Instead of reading ePassport data via NFC, the app uses OCR. Verification could be done with a NFC read of all ICAO MRTD (ePassport) information but the app does not do this. Instead the only requirement to get a passport read is a valid MRZ (machine readable zone) read of the birthdate that matches the birthday what gets read from the My Number Card.
  • JP ePassport format does not support maiden + married names (by design) and this is the given reason why OCR is used instead of NFC. The JP ePassport name limitation also the reason why the current version of the app refuses to issue vaccination certificates when the My Number Card contains such name combinations. (fixed in v1.08 update)

The Apple Pay whipping post

I suppose I should care about the latest ‘Apple Pay is evil’ brouhaha piece by CNBC “Apple is sticking taxpayers with part of the bill for rollout of tech giant’s digital ID card” by Hugh Son and Kif Leswing which appeared more or less at the same instant as “What Apple’s Secret DMV Contracts Tell Us” on Jason Mikula’s Fintech Business Weekly Substack newsletter.

But I don’t. In this age of shut up when we tell you to shut up big corporate and social media, I get suspicious when east coast journalists start trolling a big new ‘scoop’ at the same time. Why now and why these guys? Why do they ask the same questions? Do they hang out at the same bar and share story notes, or did somebody feed them the story and the sources? Both pieces outline some of the agreements Apple made with states and the restrictions/conditions Apple has in place to provide ID in Wallet for driver’s licenses.

When a story like this breaks from multiple outlets just before a service launch, and there is every indication Apple plans to release ID in Wallet with the iOS 15.2 update, I smell somebody’s agenda. A somebody who wants to upend Apple Pay’s ID in Wallet launch cart. This is the way to do it.

As Mikula is a former Goldman Sachs guy where he learned how to fleece things, he provides important context to the story that CNBC does not:

Multiple ID verification (“IDV”)…is big business — according to a company in the space, Mitek Systems, it was worth an estimated $7.6 billion in 2020 and will grow to nearly $16 billion by 2025. Socure, a company offering IDV services, just raised $450m at a $4.5 billion valuation — an increase in value of ~2.5x from earlier this year.

What Apple’s Secret DMV Contracts Tell Us

I wrote about iOS 15 ID in Wallet earlier this year:

There is another aspect to consider, one that Apple certainly won’t divulge: who manages and runs the backend centralized mobile ID issue service that plugs into Apple Pay servers…There has to be a partner service company that sub-contracts mobile ID issue services to participating state governments…somebody that does the heavy lifting of linking various state database servers to provide a centralized card issuing service so that Apple can provide a seamless ID add card experience. But it must be an independent entity that can provide the same set of backend ID issue services to other digital wallet platforms (Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.) at some point. Because if it is not an independent entity providing those services, Apple is inviting more claims that Apple Pay is a monopoly. It’s a mystery worth digging into.

Secrets of iOS 15 Apple Wallet

Beyond defining Digital Identity Credentials that are the key part of the ‘restrictive’ agreements between the states and Apple, there are no system details. Nada. Certainly nothing like the system diagram from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) English PDF document: First Summary Toward the Realization of Electronic Certificates for Smartphones, that outlines how the digital ID system architecture for the Individual Number Card (My Number) works. A white paper from Apple explaining how ID in Wallet works both on the device and in the cloud, is key to understanding how secure ID in Wallet is, and how restrictive the agreements are. Without one, Apple puts itself, and Apple Pay ID in Wallet at risk in the political environment that is state government contractor relations. Asking users to simply trust a black box doesn’t fly in this security risk adverse, privacy conscious age.

As nothing has been released yet, and we have no white paper or anything else from Apple, I think discussion is pointless at this point. Questions are a good thing but are CNBC and Mikula asking good questions? I think the sudden ‘we’re protecting the tax payers and good citizens’ angle is highly suspect when CNBC has been a highly partisan mouthpiece always on the side of establishment government and establishment corporate America… a media company who asked nothing about big pharma’s role in the COVID hysteria driven vaccination program for example, or why Pfizer etc. are exempt for any and all side-effects of their experimental vaccinations, all while demonizing the good citizens who want those questions asked.

After all, privatization of government services is so entrenched at this point nobody really questions it anymore. Wouldn’t it be better to ask why states want to sign up for ID in Wallet, what they want to get out of it and why, why, why? Could it be that states want a successful digital ID service people will actually use? Not sexy enough I guess. If you ask me, I think some government contractor in the IDV business, and their supporters, stand to loose out in a big way if ID in Wallet is a success and used some connections to slam a media outrage ball into Apple’s court. Let the games begin.

Japanese government lists dual SIM iPhone models ‘non compliant’ for emergency call issues

The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has listed 15 dual SIM iPhone models including iPhone 13 as “non-compliant” to government technical standards due to an inability to place emergency calls in certain dual SIM use situations. Apple posted a Japanese only support page on October 23 that acknowledges the emergency call issue when both data only SIM and voice call SIM are installed with a workaround: users need to make sure the SIM number in Mobile Data settings is a voice SIM in order to make emergency calls to 110/118/119 numbers (police, coast guard, ambulance).

Apple needs to fix this issue as quickly as possible. They should have caught it before iOS 15 shipped.

Final thoughts on iOS 15 Apple Maps

Reviewing Apple Maps is impossible because it’s not the same product everywhere. The iOS 15 Apple Maps users get in California is completely different from the Apple Maps users get in Japan. The vast collection of services under the Maps umbrella is such that a comprehensive overview would require separate reviews of each category and country: (1) Basic Directions: driving, transit, bike, walking, (2) Search: pre-canned Nearby, Point of Interest, etc., (3) Two different versions of Look Around, (4) Guides, (5) Last but not least: cartography design and map data quality.

The reason for this of course is that much of Apple Maps is outsourced, very little is collected in-house and created by Apple. Apple uses many different local data suppliers of varying quality to deliver most map services for each country. Most regions outside of major metropolitan areas only have a small sub-set of those services.

Nobody maps the vast Apple Maps effort better than Justin O’Beirne but even he limits his analysis to cartography and listing feature availability rollouts. His useful availability table illustrates the dilemma, as you can see Maps feature availability is all over the place.

Justin O’Beirne Apple Maps Feature Availability (9/2021)

For this iOS 15 Apple Maps non-review, I’ll limit observations to a few features in Japan, or lack thereof. Before diving in it is important to be acquainted with the basic longstanding quality problems that Apple Maps Japan has suffered from:

  • Poor quality map data from supplier Increment P, especially weak in rural areas. Apple could easily and greatly improve their map product by switching to outstanding Zenrin data, but they have not taken the opportunity.
  • Extremely uneven quality from various Point of Interest (POI) data suppliers
  • Poor vetting and coordination of 3rd party supplied data on the Apple Maps system side (duplicates, poor or missing localization, etc.) with no viable way to report duplication errors.
  • Poor Japanese typography, specifically unfamiliarity with or unwillingness to accommodate and optimize non-roman character sets like Kanji that have special rules and needs for legible display.
  • No real-time transit schedule data integration, weak rural area transit direction support

I created a similar feature availability chart to O’Beirne’s one, focusing only on Japan and clearly separating out Apple in-house and 3rd party supplied data. Transit directions are the only nationwide available feature beyond fundamental drive and walking directions.

iOS 15 New Cartography
All countries, more or less, get the Apple Maps ‘new look’ cartography which everybody seems to either love or hate neatly summed up in the above Twitter timeline screenshot. O’Beirne will cover every nook and cranny of iOS 15 cartography in a long promised, but repeatedly postponed review opus. Until that appears this limited overview will have to do.

Let’s start with the basic new UI elements. iOS 15 Apple Maps has 4 views compared with the 3 views of previous iOS versions: Explore, Driving, Transit, Satellite. Explore is new and serves as the default view for exploring details and Points of Interest (POI) in full glory, or drowning in gory details…depending on your point of view.

Explore attempts to limit POI clutter with a new map design element: the ‘micro POI’. Micro POI are textless small dots using the same POI color scheme that tells the users there is more information available by zooming in. It’s a nice idea that Google Maps cribbed and implemented in better (bigger, higher contrast, easy to see) fashion that Apple.

The micro POI failure in Apple Maps is due to another new map element: highlighted commercial areas. Google Maps has highlighted commercial areas with a slightly different background color for some time. Apple Maps now highlights these areas with a pale orange background color that separates it from the standard grey background of non-commercial areas. Unfortunately the commercial POI color is also orange…so you end up with orange text on orange background. Micro POI look better in Dark Mode because the different background color adds most contrast. Hopefully Apple will continue to improve their new design to match the clarity and high contrast readability of Google and Yahoo Japan.

Japanese typography problems remain
The new cartography is a mixed bag on the colored Kanji typography front. Dark mode has improved dramatically but regular light mode still suffers from low contrast where the text color is almost the same as the background color. And Apple Maps still does ‘fukuro moji‘ wrong, there are too many times where there should be a black outline instead of white to make the text label readable. This issue is the perfect opportunity for AI that intelligently delivers the best display typography whatever the background is. Google Maps is remains miles ahead here and also respects user dynamic text size and bold text settings which Apple Maps completely ignores.

Transit Improvements
En-route disembark notifications are finally here but in my extensive testing, I found the design strangely inconsistent and disembark notifications unreliable. First of all Transit directions take over the screen like driving directions but only when set in iPhone but not, Apple Watch. Transfer and destination notifications are non standard app only banners that are also work differently on Apple Watch: they only show when Apple Maps is in the background.

The notification mechanism itself is GPS based and doesn’t work well in subways or big stations like Shinjuku that have notoriously bad GPS reception. Most of the time I get ‘next station disembark’ alerts after the train pulls out of Shinjuku. It’s the same story for Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Shibuya, and other major stations.

Transit directions now includes train car exit information, but real time transit and train crowding information is still missing. All of these have been on Google Maps Japan and Yahoo Japan Maps for some time and the UI is much more useful for searching transit route options.

One last time
I’ll close out this post and Apple Maps coverage with some final thoughts on the Japan product. Apple Maps reaches the 10 year mark in 2022, the ‘New Maps’ effort will be 4 years old. Things have improved for some regions but the overall level of fit and polish feels the same because the same old iOS 6 era problems lurk under the new candy coated surface. The more I use iOS 15 Apple Maps, the less I like it.

The basic malaise of Apple Maps in Japan is focus. The product team thinks that throwing questionable new features into the mix, the new cartography design, Look Around, etc., make a better product. They don’t. They don’t because each new feature is not best in class and/or doesn’t address the needs of the region. The result is a highly integrated collection of mediocre mini products and services. It doesn’t add up…the total is less than the sum of the parts.

Look Around for example: Tokyo data is from 2019 and has not been updated since then (as of this writing in October 2021) and it’s a confusing mix where some Tokyo Look Up areas incorporate POI information and some don’t.

Tokyo and other major cities change quickly but given how slow the Apple Maps image collection effort in Japan is, Look Around isn’t keeping up let alone expanding much. On the whole and the local data collection effort remains very limited compared to America, Europe and Australia. Guides remain an English only option, Indoor maps don’t include stations…and so it goes.

Compare that to the success of the highly focused Apple Pay Japan, Jennifer Bailey’s team built a very strong foundation and improved it from there. Instead of spreading themselves thin, Apple would do better to put new features on hold and focus on the basic foundation. Because until that happens, Apple Maps Japan, a product that refuses to name the Sea of Japan, is going nowhere.


iOS 15 Apple Maps User Reaction Gallery


Previous Apple Maps JP coverage:
iOS 15 Apple Maps wish list
Apple ‘Look Around’ Japan launch
iOS 14 Apple Maps wish list